Police officers in the Village of Lansing, Illinois, are investigating an incident involving an off-duty police officer who was filmed holding a black teenager to the ground and threatening his life for being on the officer’s lawn.
Another minor filmed a portion of the Saturday confrontation, which was later shared on Facebook, where it went viral. The roughly 90-second video, seen below, contains explicit language throughout.
In it, an adult man straddles the teen and puts his hand around his neck. The man can be heard scolding the teen for coming onto his property and says, “I’m going to fucking kill you.”
Andrew M. Stroth, a civil rights attorney who is representing the teen’s family, identified him as 15-year-old Jordan Brunson and identified the teen who recorded the incident only as Aaron, also 15.
Later in the video, the off-duty officer tells Brunson that he is “trying to figure out what’s going on and you guys are acting stupid.”
When Brunson tells the man that “he is not involved in this,” the man says, “I don’t give a fuck who is. Do you understand that?”
“Why are you doing this to me then?” Brunson asks, to which the man replies, “Because your friend is being a fucking idiot,” apparently referring to Aaron.
A woman named Ann Falls, who claims to be related to Brunson, shared the video Monday on Facebook. It has been viewed nearly 4 million times.
The Lansing Police Department confirmed to the Northwest Indiana Times that officials had been investigating the incident before video of the confrontation was uploaded to the internet. The confrontation was related to a larger fight that had broken out among about 30 juveniles earlier in the day, police said in a statement Tuesday.
Brunson told Chicago news station WGN-TV that he was trying to help his friend who had been injured in a fight and went to sit on the officer’s porch.
“I was examining him,” Brunson told the news station. “I was going to go tell his grandmother.” Brunson also said that the man never identified himself as a police officer.
When asked about the officer’s confrontation of the teens, a spokesperson for the Lansing police directed HuffPost to statements released Monday, which said the off-duty officer “became involved when he was approached by two other subjects involved in the fight.”
“One of the juveniles had visible minor injuries, and the other was temporarily detained for further investigation until the arrival of on-duty officers,” the statement said.
The off-duty officer had found a backpack containing a baseball hat and a BB gun in his backyard, then he saw the injured 15-year-old on his property, according to the police’s statement Tuesday. The teen told the officer that he had been in a fight with several black male juveniles.
A black 15-year-old (Brunson, who is not identified by name in the police statement) then reportedly approached the injured teen and the off-duty officer on the officer’s property. According to police, the officer told both teens to stay put until police arrived, but they refused, “resulting in the off-duty officer physically detaining one of the juveniles.”
Stroth, whose law firm investigates police brutality, called the officer’s actions unwarranted and excessive, and said the earlier fight between the teens was unrelated to the officer’s treatment of Brunson.
“The video speaks for itself. It’s yet another example of a white officer using excessive and unreasonable force against a 15-year-old black boy,” Stroth told HuffPost. “Based on eyewitness reports and the video, Jordan did nothing to provoke the unwarranted and excessive force used by the police officer.”
Stroth told HuffPost that police had not filed any charges against either boy. Lansing police have not released the name of the officer, who is still on active duty, Police Chief Dennis Murrin told the Northwest Indiana Times.
Brunson’s family has not pressed any charges against the officer, though Stroth’s law firm is conducting its own investigation into the incident.
A news conference is scheduled for Wednesday morning at the Lansing Police Department, where activists are expected to protest the off-duty officer’s actions, according to Stroth.
Clarification: This article has been updated throughout to clarify the chronology of events, and to reflect that the off-duty officer does not appear to cut off Brunson’s airway.